Mahogany is one of the most popular woods in the world. It’s strong, beautiful, and easy to work with. However, it comes with a hefty price, too. If you’re just starting out, it might be unreasonable for you to purchase a load of Mahogany to handle your woodworking projects.
Luckily, there is an alternative that has most of Mahogany’s traits, but it’s cheaper; it’s called Sapele, and it’s “African Mahogany”. While not actually a Mahogany species, it’s close enough to be used for the same things.
While it’s cheap enough to be a substitute for Mahogany for beginners, is it easy enough to work with?
Let’s take a look.
Traits of Sapele
Sapele is almost exactly like Mahogany in color, woodgrain, and performance traits. It’s hard, has high tensile strength, resists water damage, and is overall a very solid wood.
It does differ in the color pattern a bit, though. Mahogany isn’t too uniform. Sapele is actually more uniform by a staggering degree. This is honestly a good thing. You don’t have to worry about the tones of the wood’s coloring matching up when you connect various pieces.
Ease of Use: Sanding
Sapele sands beautifully if you use the proper sequence for sanding it. If you click that guide and follow along, you’ll have one of the easiest sanding jobs you’ve ever done. However, if you stray from the proper method, you can leave a rough surface or scratch it up. It’s nothing that can’t be corrected, though.
Overall, that’s pretty beginner-friendly.
Ease of Use: Planing
Sapele planes very well, too. It’s hard, but it’s not so hard that it will dull your planer blade, and its grain is extremely uniform; making it easy to slice through.
Again, that’s perfect for a beginner woodworker.
Ease of Use: Cutting
Unlike similar woods, Sapele won’t dull your tools faster than usual, and it cuts extremely smoothly. With a well-maintained saw, a solid technique, and some planning, every cut should come out extremely clean, and you won’t have to worry too much.
This is key because most mistakes beginners suffer from are committed during the cutting step.
Ease of Use: Staining
Staining Sapele is easy; as long as you don’t mind the stain’s color changing. Sapele does have some reddish coloring to it, and that’s going to alter the color of stain treatments. However, you should still be able to notice it, and of course, it still protects the wood. So, it’s worth using. We would recommend using a similarly colored stain to preserve the natural beauty of this wonderful wood.
Is Sapele Beginner-Friendly?
Sapele is incredibly beginner-friendly. It’s cheaper than Mahogany, looks and performs just like it, and it is incredibly easy to work with. If you’re just starting out with woodworking, or you need to complete your projects on a budget, Sapele is probably the perfect wood for you. Not to mention, its color is even more uniform than true Mahogany, and that will appeal to some craftsmen even if they can afford Mahogany.